Wednesday 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Happy New Year to you all! 2014 has been a fantastic one for us and I wanted to do a round up of highlights, but I stumbled across The New Year Tag and thought this would do the job nicely :)

What was your highlight of 2014?

Looking back through my facebook timeline for last year, I have so many highlights but my favourite was probably Elliot's 2nd birthday party. It was so much fun, I blogged about it here. And even the Gruffalo came along! Everything went to plan, all the kids were well behaved, everyone had a great time and it was just a brilliant success. Unfortunately I have set the bar high for birthday parties now and I have to think of something even cooler for next year!! (hubby wants a space themed party....really?!!)

What are you excited for in 2015?

  • I'm really hoping we get to move in 2015 - we have a lovely little flat at the moment but we have definitely outgrown it. The bigger Elliot gets, the bigger his toys seem to get!
  • Attending more blogging events and helping my blog grow. I have loved writing over the past 5 months and I would like to try and post lots more this year!
  • Singing more! Last January I joined my local choir, Just Sing and it was really was one of the best things I have ever done. I really look forward to Wednesday night rehearsals and we have such a laugh whilst learning some of my favourite songs. Hopefully we will have lots more live performances to look forward to! 

Any New Years Resolutions?
I never see any point in making resolutions because I never stick at them but as always I intend to get healthier! I'll be rejoining my local slimming club soon we'll see how that pans out! 

Blogging High?
It's a bit silly but I did feel really chuffed when Andy Day from CBeebies retweeted my blog tweet about the day we met him! (See here) He might not have even read the blog but who cares, he retweeted it ;) 

Picture of the Year?
It's a recent one, taken just after Christmas whilst out on a winter walk. Elliot looks so so gorgeous and I love his cheeky smile! 

So there's my little round up of 2014 - looking back, it seems to have gone by in a flash. It makes me sad that Elliot will be off to pre-school in September but I know I'm so lucky to be able to spend all this time with him now. Lots more fun things planned for this year! 

Please feel free to take part in the New Year Tag :)

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Festival of Light - Christmas at Longleat

Ever since we visited Longleat Safari Park back in September (you can read about it here) , Elliot hasn't stopped talking about it. He's always telling people "we went to Longleat!" so I thought it would be great to visit again at Christmas time so we could see the Festival of Lights event that is running up until the 4th January 2015. The Festival of Lights is a spectacular display of giant Chinese lanterns.

We didn't use our Tesco vouchers this time so paid full price (£23.35 per adult which included an online discount because we pre-booked) and fortunately Elliot was free as he isn't 3 yet. We also pre-booked a visit to see Father Christmas in his grotto - at £10 we didn't think this was too bad compared to other places I have seen advertised. But more on that later....!

If you read my previous blog post about Longleat you'll know that Elliot fell asleep on the safari bus and missed all the big cats! Well we wanted to ensure he got to see them this time so we decided to take our own car around the safari - including the monkey bit eeeeek! We arrived at 11am and did the safari first so that Elliot was nice and awake - he loved sitting up front with me in the car and he was fascinated by the monkies jumping on the roof! He wasn't quite so taken with the camel who got a bit close to our open window - quick!!! Wind that window up!!!
The Safari park was very busy compared with when we visited in the Summer but the only slow bit was going through the big cat enclosures - but that wasn't a problem, it gave us more time to see them. I have to say at this point that we had our Lion King soundtrack on repeat in the car (Elliot's request!) and it did make me giggle seeing all the lions and then us singing along to Circle of Life!

I won't talk too much about the rest of the park because it was covered in my previous post but we actually saw the hippos this time! Yay!

Now for The Festival of Lights....WOW!!!!!! Seeing the pictures on the website and actually seeing them in person is another thing - I was blown away. The lights were switched on at 4.30pm just as it was getting dark and it was amazing and so festive. Speaking of festive, we had a date with an important man at 4.30pm so we made our way over to the Grotto area and waited for an Elf to see us. The lead up to the Grotto was absolutely lovely - lots of twinkly lights, Christmas trees, fake snow and even a donkey or two! It looked so Christmassy and it helped that it was really cold, I felt very festive! The Santa visits were done in half hour booking slots and we were first in line for our slot so didn't have to queue, we were whisked straight in to see Father Christmas. Elliot was a little bit shy but soon stepped forward when he saw Father Christmas holding out a present for him!! Although there was a queue behind us outside, we didn't feel rushed and the Elf let us take as many photos as we wanted.

Once outside Elliot couldn't wait to open his present and he was very excited to see what was inside! It was a Johnny Jungle plane made by Wow toys - what a great gift! Perfect for a 2 yr old boy and he loved it.

After leaving the Grotto we headed towards the main area and marvelled at all the light displays. 1000s of lanterns make up the display and it is the first of it's kind in Europe! We also found a 50ft singing Christmas tree which Elliot loved. It did shows every half an hour and we managed to catch one - it lit up, it glistened, it sang carols - Elliot was spellbound!

We walked on through the rest of the display and it just got more impressive! There were giant flowers, a menagerie of animals, dragons, dancing pandas - so many things!

Luckily the park was open until 7.30pm so we had plenty of time to see all the lanterns. There was even a small market selling lots of Chinese gifts. We bought a penguin hat for Elliot....not strictly Chinese but he looked very cute! Before we left we had time to try out the yummy looking spring rolls from the Chinese food stall and Elliot tucked into a turkey and stuffing roll....all that waking around had made us hungry! We finally managed to drag ourselves away from the park as they were closing and we'd had such  brilliant day - topped off nicely by seeing all the lanterns from afar as we drove back up the exit road.
Penguin hat!
I can thoroughly recommend seeing the Festival of Lights and I urge you all to visit before they close on the 4th January!

Monday 29 December 2014

Christmas....that's it for another year!

I hope you've all had a brilliant Christmas - ours has been quiet, but fun. And filled with LOTS of new toys...and the mess that brings with it!! 

Our Christmas week kicked off with a toddler party hosted by my friend Becky. It was pretty chaotic - lots of toddlers ,lots of toys, lots of food, lots of friends and topped off by a visit from the man himself, Father Christmas! We have a large group of friends (we all met at our under ones group back in 2013) and we decided to do Secret Santa for the kids. We all bought one present that was suitable for girl/boy and then each toddler got given a pressie from Father Christmas. It was great fun and Elliot loved playing with his friends - he also enjoyed the bowl of chocolate coins on the food table and every time I looked at him he was cramming one in his mouth!! (Like mother like son...!!)

We spent Christmas Eve evening celebrating with my husband's family and it was nice for Elliot to spend some time with his cousins. Before we got there though we managed to spot Father Christmas flying over my parent's house - I'm not sure Elliot really understood but for a second even I forgot it was the ISS!! It was a magical moment and definitely worth standing out in the freezing cold for ;)

Before bedtime we made sure to leave goodies out for Father Christmas - a mince pie for him and a carrot for Rudolf. I asked Elliot what drink Father Christmas would like and he couldn't decide between beer and coffee (!!) but we went with whiskey in the end. The good stuff too....only the best for Father Christmas!

Christmas morning started at 7.30am for us so not too early and Elliot was very excited to find a stocking full of little presents on his bed. After ripping them open with lots of "Ooohs!!" he ran into the lounge to see that Father Christmas had been! The look on his face was priceless and he was so excited at the pile of presents for him. He loved his Scuttlebug and spent ages whizzing around on it!

We had a lovely Christmas dinner cooked by my husband (he does the best roasts!!) and then spent the afternoon celebrating with my family. Elliot was thoroughly spoilt and got so many lovely presents. He was particularly keen on the farm and animals and his Grandad had to open this ASAP! 

Christmas was extra special this year as both my sisters were home. My middle sister spent last Christmas on a ship in the middle of the Antarctic volunteering for Sea Shepherd so this year was very different for her and I think she was very happy to be having a Christmas on dry land! 

My mum did a buffet spread for tea and this is my favourite bit of Christmas. I love all my family being together having a laugh and you can't beat a bit of party food! We all ate too much but there was still room for some of Mum's Christmas cake :) 

After over indulging over the Christmas period, we felt the need to get out for a walk but unfortunately Boxing Day the weather was terrible. Luckily the following day was cold, crisp and dry (well for a short time anyway!). We wrapped up warm and went for a walk along one of our favourite places, Poole Quay. The views out across the harbour are lovely and it always makes me so grateful to live somewhere as beautiful as Dorset! 

What were your Christmas highlights? 
Follow me on Instagram for more family snaps :)

Sunday 7 December 2014

Feeling Festive!

Well after a shaky start, our tree is finally up. It only took me two days - note to self, probably best not to start getting the tree up near bedtime with an overtired toddler who just wants to take the branches off!! And then both sets of lights died....arghhhhhh!! But we got there, and it looks lovely. Not sure how long the baubles will stay on for though. And I've purposely not hung any chocolate decorations because they wouldn't last five minutes with eagle-eyed Elliot around!!

To kick start our festive celebrations we spent some time on Poole Quay this afternoon where they were holding a "Christmas on the Quay" event. There were snowmen, roasted chestnuts, fake snow, panto stars, mulled wine, carol singers, a spiderman marching band (festive eh!) and the big man himself, Father Christmas. After a parade along the Quay front (which me and Elliot missed as we were in the loo, doh!), Father Christmas made his way along the crowds to meet all the kids and have lots of pics taken. Elliot was more interested in the free sweets that were being handed out but I perched him up on the barrier and waited. Father Christmas came straight over to us and just picked Elliot up for a cuddle!! Elliot was a bit muted (he's got a habit of doing that around famous people hah!) but we managed to get some lovely photos. Father Christmas was one of the best I've seen, a genuinely nice old man who obviously loved children!


The atmosphere was lovely down there, very festive just a bit on the chilly side! We managed to see Father Christmas again further along the Quay where he disappeared off into the harbour on an RNLI lifeboat. Back to the North Pole I presume, busy time of year for him!

Our last piece of entertainment for the day was the Flotilla of Lights. Lots of local boats get decorated in christmas lights and make their way towards the Quay. It sounds a bit naff but it's a lovely festive sight seeing all the boats come round the corner and Elliot really enjoyed watching it this year. He especially enjoyed waving to all the fishermen on the boats!

This is my favourite time of year and it makes it even more enjoyable having Elliot around. We have lots of fun stuff planned for the next couple of weeks and I am looking forward to getting lots of wear out of our Christmas jumpers!

Personalised Christmas Cards by Postsnap

You may remember I reviewed the lovely Postsnap postcards a few months ago. Now Christmas is on the way, they have launched an exciting new range of Christmas cards which like the postcards, can be personalised with your favourite photo and then sent directly to the recipient.

As with the postcards, their home screen on the app is very easy to navigate and tells you exactly how much the cards are. For a Christmas card you will pay £3 which I think i good value because that includes free delivery.

After I clicked on 'Greeting Card', it came up with lots of options, including many Christmas themed ones. As my cards were going to be from my son, I chose some bright and colourful templates. I uploaded my chosen photo from facebook and it was really easy to tweak it to fit. There was options to change the colour of the card, or even the effect of the photo. My photo was a little dark so I brightened it up a bit.

Postsnap had stored my addresses from last time so it was very quick to whizz through the delivery options and to a finished order. There was also the option of sending another card to another recipient but using the same photo and template - very useful!

The cards arrived a few days later and Elliot's Grandparents are very happy with their personalised Christmas cards!

Postsnap are very kindly offering my readers 25% off an order so please use the following code at checkout: ELLIOT1

Mami 2 Five

Tuesday 2 December 2014

The Christmas Tag

My friend and fellow blogger Jeni over at Poole Mamma invited me to take part in the Christmas Tag and I thought it might be a nice idea to answer some Christmassy questions! 

1. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
I love everything about Christmas! I love the build up, the Christmas music, the food, the wrapping of presents, the general atmosphere! It's my favourite time of year and now we have Elliot, it means Christmas has that element of fun again. I love taking him to visit Father Christmas and I love buying him cute Christmas outfits! 

Various Christmas outfits from last year!
2. What is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?
I like to wear a silver sparkly eyeshadow, lots of eyeliner and lots of mascara and usually a bit of glitter if I'm off out on a Christmas night out! 

3. Real of fake tree?
There's only one option with a toddler on the scene - a fake one!! We used to get a real one when I was a child but I just remember the pine needles all over the floor!

Our nosy cat Sookie having a play with the big shiny things!
4. Giving or receiving presents?
I've always loved to give presents and even more so now Elliot is here, we buy him far too much! 

5. Do you open your presents in the morning or the evening?
When I lived at home, even as teenagers me and my sisters would be up at the crack of dawn itching to open our presents! 5am was the earliest our parents would allow us to get up and it was so exciting running downstairs to see "he'd been!". I'm sure some families have very civilised opening of presents but not us ;) Now I'm in my 30s I don't get up quite so early but it's still a tradition to open presents first thing - I'm not sure I could wait until after lunch!! 

6. Handmade or shop bought Christmas cards?
I'm the world's least creative person so shop bought all the way! 

7. Favourite Christmas film?
It has to be Elf, I can watch it over and over again and it never gets boring - I just love the scene where Buddy gets told Santa is coming to the store........."SAANTAAAA!!! I KNOW HIM!!!!!!!!" 
I also like Santa Claus the Movie and have fond memories of sitting at home on Christmas Eve afternoon watching it and being allowed to open the Christmas sweets :) 

8. Favourite Christmas Food?
Three words - PIGS IN BLANKETS!!! I'm not sure why I don't have these at any other time of year but these are my favourite part of the Christmas Dinner! My other favourite part of Christmas Day is the buffet my mum does for us all - you can't beat it!! Everyone is so stuffed but theres always room for some sausage rolls and crisps! 

9. Favourite Christmas gift?
I have been given so many nice things over the years but one that sticks in my mind is getting a new bike as a teenager! Me and my sisters had opened all our presents and weren't expecting anything else.....but Mum told us to go into the back room where three bike shaped objects were waiting under a big cover!!! Woohooo! 

10. What tops your tree?
We have a little wooden star that was given to us when Elliot was born, It's very cute and is light enough not to pull the tree over like our previous star! 

Feel free to answer these questions too, either in my comments or leave me your blog URL

**We haven't put this years Christmas Tree up so please excuse my mix of old Christmas photos!!**
Mami 2 Five
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